**I know this is a bit long but please please read me!! A lot of information about the next stage in our life**
As many of you know, over the last few months we have been looking towards a new season; one brought on by a vision of seeing God’s Kingdom come to places like Dinajpur, Bangladesh where men and women are enslaved in brick kilns forced to labor 18 hours a day, or in Kathmandu, Nepal where young girls are forced to sell their bodies in order to pay off phony debts, or in the foothills of Uttar Pradesh, India where whole families are entrapped by debt bondage to wealthy and oppressive land owners. We have seen with our eyes, but it’s our hearts that break for them, that yearn for a day when they will be truly free.
The realities and complexities of an issue like human trafficking and slavery run wide and deep. There is no one solution, no five-point plan to put an end to slavery, and every victim, every family has specific needs and underlying problems that need very specific attention. But we can’t stop the bleeding by putting band-aid after band-aid on. Poverty, slavery, hunger, lack of clean water and healthcare, these issues don’t come about within a vacuum. There is an oppressive, unjust system (that we ourselves participate in) fed by ideologies of materialism and security, entitlement and even religion that provide the framework for such injustices to take root. This is where we feel God leading us, straight into the heart of it, where major reconstructive surgery needs to take place before the bleeding can finally stop.
So what does that actually look like? For us it means developing and refining our God-given knowledge and skills in areas that will prepare us to make lasting changes for those who are on the margins, those enslaved by an unjust system (or empire). We believe going back to university is an essential next step and will open up many opportunities to participate in the anti-slavery movement happening right now within the States. I (Justin) hope to finish my B.A. in International Studies/Development while Kelly is planning to get her RN in hopes that she can work with victims of slavery, specifically in the areas of aftercare and social development. And on top of all this, Made By People (MBP), our Fair Trade organic apparel company is starting to take shape. Basically, MBP seeks to (1) create sustainable livelihoods for struggling men and women across the world by connecting them with the global marketplace (we sell the things they make here in the States), (2) to use the business as a vehicle for spreading awareness about human trafficking and slavery, specifically in the context of personal consumption: how we are intricately connected to those who produce our everyday products from clothing to chocolate and how our choice to become 'ethical consumers' greatly affects those who make the things we buy.
For the next few weeks we will remain in Nepal meeting with fellow missionaries and businessmen who have made it their lifes work to see these very issues that are on our hearts, come to an end. We will be learning from their experiences and listening to their stories (with a little mix of fun and relaxation too!). We are so excited for this next step and feel as if the Lord has been revealing to us new ways that He is working in the world and creative opportunities to get involved. THANK YOU for reading out updates and blogs. In the next few weeks we will be posting more about how we still need YOU and how this is just the beginning of an exciting and a bit scary journey the Lord has us on.